California Train Accident Lawyers
Updated: Apr 26
How to file personal injury claims for railroad accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a train crash, you can contact an attorney as soon as possible. Before the statute of limitations runs out, the train accident lawyer would need to find all of the liable parties and file a lawsuit against them. If a government-owned railroad is at fault, for example, the injured party will be required to give the railroad special notice of the allegation within a certain period of time, often as little as 30–60 days.
Railway travel is provided by companies that are listed as common carriers under the law. Common carriers are obligated by law to ensure that their freight or passengers arrive safely at their destinations, and they are therefore held responsible for injuries to passengers that occur during transportation if the carrier might have avoided the accident by exercising greater caution.
When passengers are injured in a train crash, they will be able to file a lawsuit for negligence against the train operator and railway owner. When a train crash is caused by the owner or operator of the railway's negligence, passengers and their families may be entitled to recover money damages for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost profits. Although the railroad company is in charge of maintaining the tracks and the train, drivers must also adhere to the laws that regulate railroad crossings.
Subways and freight trains and light railways, trams, and other types of trains are popular modes of transportation. Train accidents aren't as frequent as road accidents, but when they do happen, they can result in serious injuries and deaths.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 1,835 train crashes in the United States in 2019. A train crash or event on the railroads took the lives of over 900 people.
Human error or other acts of negligence cause several train accidents. If you or someone you love was killed in a train crash, you could employ a personal injury lawyer to help you recover money for your injury or loss.
Related California Laws for Trains and Accidents
School buses and some commercial vehicles, including those carrying dangerous, flammable, or explosive materials, are required by California Vehicle Code 22452 to come to a complete stop at least 15 feet to 50 feet from the crossing before crossing. Furthermore, under CVC 15312.1, any contractor who needs a commercial driver to breach railroad crossing laws commits a felony.
California Vehicle Code 22521 forbids any vehicle from parking or coming to a stop on a railroad track or within 7 1/2 feet of the nearest rail.
Trespassing on or near railroad tracks or propelling a vehicle onto the tracks without the express prior permission of railroad officials is a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 369.
California Vehicle Code 22526 prohibits motor vehicles from crossing a railroad unless and until there is enough space on the other side of the tracks for a train to pass safely.
Any vehicle must stop at the marked white line before crossing a railroad track, according to California Vehicle Code 22450.
Alert signs must be placed on the right side of the lane, a safe distance from a railroad crossing, according to California Vehicle Code 21362.
California Vehicle Code 22352 sets the speed limit at 15 miles per hour within 100 feet of a railroad crossing.
Suppose you or a family member is injured in a train crash. In that case, it is important to have your own legal and investigation team working to assess responsibility and protect your and your family's interests.
Train Crash Survivors
Train incidents have the potential to harm whole cities, groups of individuals, or even a single person. Hundreds of people could be injured or killed if a commuter train carries many passengers derails or crashes. People on and off the train can be affected by these incidents.
The following are some examples of train crash victims:
motorists or riders in cars
Bystanders, such as cyclists or other passers-by
passengers on the train
Types of Railroad Accidents Leading to Personal Injury
The Federal Railroad Commission keeps records of the various types of train crashes. According to recent statistics, derailments, track crossings, and crashes account for the majority of train incidents in the United States.
Accidents involving trains
When a train leaves its tracks, it is called a derailment. These types of accidents can result from defective tracks, barriers, poorly maintained machinery, too much cargo weight, or other safety standard defects, which can cause significant harm.
Accidents at Railroad Crossings
Vehicles or pedestrians are struck at a railroad crossing in this sort of accident. According to the National Safety Committee, there were 168 deaths in 2017 involving motor vehicles and railroad crossings. In the same year, 86 people were killed at railway crossings.
Any type of train accident can result in a collision. A car could collide with a train at a railroad crossing, or two trains could collide on the tracks. A collision with a high-speed train can be deadly, and any passenger (on or off the train) may be seriously injured or killed.
Train Accidents: What Causes Them?
Whether it's a derailment, a railroad crossing incident, or a crash, train accidents can happen for a number of reasons. Every train accident is different, but there are some trends in what causes the most common railroad accidents.
According to the US Department of Transportation, human error is one of the leading causes of train accidents. It's likely that the train operator is inexperienced or that seasoned operators make a mistake that leads to an accident.
The following are some other examples of operator error:
issues with vision
slowed response time
being under the influence of narcotics or alcoholic beverages
Failure of Equipment
Trains are mechanical devices, and mechanical or equipment failure may occur over time or as a result of poor maintenance. Parts may fail and cause the train to malfunction, which is a less common cause of a train accident. A deadly accident may occur if one component fails, such as a rail switch or a rail signal.
Negligence by a car driver or a pedestrian
Many railroad crossing deaths are caused by the incompetence or careless actions of drivers or pedestrians. A pedestrian can approach the tracks too closely or cross at an inopportune time. Before the train crosses, a car, truck, or motorcycle can try to get around it.
A driver's car may also stall in the middle of the tracks, blocking the train's path and resulting in a collision.
Railroad tracks have defects
A train could derail and crash due to faulty tracks. Derailment may occur as a result of mechanical track failure or poor track repair. Obstacles or foreign objects on the tracks may also be a warning of a broken track. Despite the fact that operators are qualified to avoid obstacles, it could be too little, too late.
Although it's possible that this is due to operator error, many recent train accidents have occurred as a result of speeding. When a trail detours or collides with something while driving at high speeds, the effects can be catastrophic and even fatal.
Railroad crossings that aren't secured
At railroad crossings, warning devices such as gates or lights must be mounted. However, frequent railroad accidents occur as a result of poorly marked or covered crossings. An inebriated driver, for example, may ignore insufficient warning signs or cause signals or gates to malfunction.
When It Causes Severe, Disfiguring Injuries
Railroad collisions have been known to cause serious injury and even death to passengers. If you're a passenger, a bystander, or a railroad employee, you could be seriously hurt.
Unlike the general definition of personal injury, catastrophic injuries are specifically debilitating. Because of the severity of their injuries, victims are unable to function, which has a negative impact on all aspects of their life, in addition to having to deal with massive medical bills.
A traumatic accident will change the victim's life and the lives of those around them for the remainder of their lives. It has the ability to cause long-term illnesses and chronic pain, reducing a person's quality of life. Furthermore, when you have lifelong impediments as a result of a serious injury, basic everyday tasks will become difficult.
Basics of Catastrophic Injury
Problems with your health (long-term or lasts a long time)
Your life expectancy has declined on average.
Permanent physical and emotional disabilities
You are unable to return to your pre-injury state or condition in life.
In terms of the extent and severity of the damage, a catastrophic injury varies from a normal personal injury. A traumatic accident is one in which you are permanently affected as a result of the occurrence. If your situation fits into this category, a railroad accidents lawyer will assist you in filing a claim for additional compensation.
A few examples of traumatic injuries are as follows:
Harm to internal organs
Spinal cord injury sometimes leading to full or partial paralysis
Traumatic brain injury
In the event of a train crash, who is responsible?
In a train crash, who was legally responsible for saving the victim from their injury determines liability or fault. Popular carriers, such as commuter trains and railroad companies, receive payment for carrying passengers.
While a common carrier cannot guarantee rider protection, it is kept to high liability requirements to protect its passengers.
Railroads, like airplanes, are required to mount a system that records data that could be useful in determining the cause of a crash. This detail is critical for a personal injury lawyer attempting to establish the operator's or railroad company's negligence.
Passenger Injury Claims on Trains
If a train operator or railway owner fails to offer a fair standard of treatment to protect its passengers, the injured passenger may be entitled to compensation or damages.
Compensation can include the following:
Pain and Suffering
Other out-of-pocket costs
Claims for Bystander Injuries
In railroad crossings, derailments, and other collisions, bystanders can be injured. If a railroad crossing arm or gate fails, or if warning signals fail, railroad companies may be held liable.
The railroad company may be held responsible for the negligence of a train operator, particularly if the company failed to employ a qualified operator. It could be difficult to seek damages if a bystander's negligence led to the crash, such as crossing the tracks while warning signals were in working order.
Worker's Compensation Cases for Railroad Workers
If a railroad provides interstate trade between states, railroad employees are covered by federal law. The Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) requires railroads to follow safety standards and perform regular safety checks in order to keep employees safe.
An injured railroad worker will be able to recover damages if they can prove that the railroad company's actions or inaction caused the worker's injuries. Families of railroad employees who died as a result of the company's negligence may be entitled to compensation.
It is critical to recognize that a number of causes can cause these accidents, and it is critical to retain a California rail accident attorney as soon as possible after an incident occurs. The prosecutor should recruit experts to help with the timely prosecution of these cases on behalf of injured victims or their relatives.
This is the only way that people who have been injured or killed as a result of accidents on or near railways will really recognize who might be legitimately liable for money damages in personal injury or wrongful death claims.
After a major railway crash, public agencies such as METRO, BART, Amtrak, and others have teams of professionals who consult with their personal injury attorneys. Their key goal is to limit any future legal liability. Similarly, suppose a commercial driver causes a train crash. In that case, their insurance company will send inspectors to the scene to perform scene inspections and other tests in order to reduce insurance claim payouts.
It's important to have your own legal and investigation team to assess responsibility and secure your and your family's rights to full and total compensation from any and all liable parties or agencies, such as railroad conductors, railroad owners, public entities, commercial carriers, and individual drivers.
How Can You Sue for Train Accident Damages?
You must file your case as soon as possible after a train crash in order to successfully settle your claim. Before the statute of limitations on your case runs out, our pre-screened train accident attorneys will review the incident, collect eyewitness accounts, and file the correct paperwork in the proper court.
Our investigators will decide if the accident was caused by a safety system failure, equipment malfunction, an impaired or distracted train operator, or some other problem. Your train accident legal counsel will be able to decide who the correct defendants in your case are, which could include:
Manufacturer of train cars or engines
Owners of real estate
a railroad business
Crew/workers in charge of railway repairs
Your train crash lawsuit will almost definitely be one for negligence, regardless of who you file it against. The basic principle of this form of legal action is that the defendant did not behave as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances; in the case of a commercial vehicle driver or common carrier, that standard is generally increased to that of a similarly situated qualified professional. You must allege and prove that he or she violated a legal obligation owed to you and that the infringement caused your damages.
Your counsel would need to show proof proving four elements in your case to successfully settle your claim:
Causation. There is a clear connection between the railroad company's negligence, its workers or contractors that caused the accident, and the injuries.
Duty of care. While running, owning, or fixing the train, the railroad company, trainmaster, conductor, mechanics, and brakemen owed you a duty of care to protect you as a passenger or a member of the public.
Worker's Intoxication and Inebriation. (including maintaining facilities, performing regular maintenance, maintaining the railway track, and not operating a train or light rail vehicle) The railroad company is legally obliged to ensure that each employee receives the requisite training to safely perform their job duties.
Breach of duty. The railroad owner and its staff or agents violated their duty of care to you by failing to prevent an accident.
Real damages. There is a connection between the incident and the monetary losses you incurred. This evidence is typically provided by reports of your hospitalization costs and other medical bills, out-of-pocket expenditures, and salary statements, as well as expert witness testimony retained by your counsel to project potential expenses such as extra surgeries/therapies and loss of future earnings due to temporary or permanent disability.
You will most likely receive financial compensation if your counsel can effectively show that the defendants' neglect of duty caused your injury and that your injuries caused your damages.
Finding Liability After An Accident
Identifying Who Was at Fault by Proving Negligence
In California, assessing liability in accidents by alleging negligence began as a "common law" tort theory, meaning that the courts evolved the theory over time to provide a mechanism for an injured party to seek compensation from the party at fault. In modern times, lawmakers in California and other states have modified the theory of negligence by enacting legislation that alters how negligence is measured and proven.
To show that the other driver was at fault in a California crash, the injured party must usually show that the other driver did not operate their vehicle with a reasonable degree of care. Every driver on the road has a duty to operate their vehicle with care or to drive with a sufficient amount of caution.
Injured parties in California train incidents must also show that the other driver "breached" their duty of care by failing to exercise the appropriate level of caution or care. The injured party must then show that the other driver's negligence caused the accident and that the negligence caused damage or disability as a result of the negligence.
The injured driver would be entitled to compensation in the amount of their loss if they could prove that the other driver was negligent in driving the car and that the negligence caused the accident.
A Statutory Violation Identifies Who Was at Fault
Another standard approach for assessing fault is to look for any violations of California laws by either party. Assume, for example, that an operator violates a clause of the California Vehicle Code and causes an accident. In that case, the driver could be considered "negligent per se," meaning that he or she is accused of being negligent or has failed to demonstrate adequate care and diligence when operating his or her automobile.
Judges defined negligence per se, like ordinary negligence, as a "common law" doctrine to assign liability in accidents. The California legislature enacted the negligence per se doctrine as a law, which is codified in Section 669 of the California Proof Code. Section 669 effectively notes that the statute that was violated was supposed to deter events like the one that occurred.
Since most of the California Vehicle Code laws were designed to deter train accidents and protect other drivers, it's relatively easy to prove that a driver was reckless in a railroad accident. If a driver is accused of being at fault in an accident, they must either pretend not to be at fault or risk being held liable.
Sometimes, the official report from the accident would state whether the driver was legally responsible.
Equal Fault and Comparative Negligence
The accident does not actually end when one party establishes that the other was incompetent. In California, as in many other jurisdictions, the cost that a negligent party is supposed to pay to an injured party can be reduced if the injured party contributed to the accident by acting negligently.
In California, the sole comparative negligence theory of liability applies, which means that anyone should be compensated for their injuries even if they were 90 percent to blame for the accident. Pure comparative negligence in California works by assigning a percentage of liability to one party and then reducing the damages by that percentage.
What happens when there are several defendants?
Multiple parties are found liable in certain personal injury cases. In the case of a train accident, suppliers, company owners, and operating workers, for example, may all be held responsible. Each defendant in the case must be partly to blame for the damages requested, according to the plaintiff and their Personal Injury Counsel.
Although this complicates settlement agreements and necessitates more rigorous evidence collection, the court usually decides how much each named defendant is responsible for the plaintiff's damages.
Your personal injury attorney will discuss how each defendant in your case will be kept responsible for their involvement in the crash. If the case goes to trial, the defendants are jointly and severally responsible for the plaintiff's damages. The accused are found guilty or liable on multiple levels by the court. During mediation sessions, plaintiffs typically negotiate between themselves to determine their fault percentages.
Which Damages Can I Sue For?
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a train crash, you would be entitled to make a claim for:
Financial compensation for all past, current, and future medical bills
Funeral and burial expenses
Other tangible and intangible damages such as pain, distress, mental anguish, loss of normal life, and sorrow
Every case has its own set of circumstances, making it impossible to estimate the exact monetary value of a claim. To assess how much you may be able to recover, your train accident lawyer will use proven formulas and the outcomes of cases similar to yours.
What Compensation Am I Entitled To?
For personal injury cases in California, there are two types of coverage: economic and non-economic damages.
The expression "economic damages" refers to financial losses. Others have referred to it as "out-of-pocket" spending. Such instances are as follows:
Injuries were treated in the hospital, which resulted in hospital bills (experts will need to calculate what may be needed for long-term care)
Harm to property
Owing to accidents, earning capacity has been permanently diminished.
Treatments for addiction and rehabilitation
"More intangible" losses are non-economic losses. It has little to do with money or observable wealth, but it is likely to have far-reaching implications for the person. It's often referred to as "Human Losses."
The injury has left you disabled
Loss of relationships (spouse or domestic partner
Enjoyment of life is lost
"Pain and Suffering" Explained
Even the most severe injuries necessitate evidence of suffering and pain. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
Plaintiff testifies on the extent and severity of their discomfort and problems following the crash.
This testimony is supported by your appointed physician, as well as family and friends.
The plaintiff's distress or losses (medical and financial).
There are no set parameters, except that the pain and suffering damages awarded must be equal or rational. The jury is told that there is no set standard and that they must decide "a fair amount based on the evidence and your common sense" in Jury Instruction CACI 3905A.
As a result, no complicated legal norm exists; all that matters is that it is comparable. Now it's up to the train accident lawyer to explain what constitutes "justice." Despite the fact that such methods have been used in the past, the lack of a true guideline remains. California's legislature has decided that citizens of the state should determine what is and is not equal.
What to Do If a Loved One Passes Away in a Train Accident
When a spouse or child is killed in a car accident, the surviving spouse or child is unable to intervene and hold others responsible. Surviving family members, on the other hand, would be able to file a wrongful death complaint to keep those responsible for the accident accountable.
In a California wrongful death case, the following family members may be entitled to compensation:
Spouse of the Decedent
Domestic partner of the victim
Grandchildren (if the children are deceased)
The compensation in a wrongful death case is intended to compensate the family members for their loss. This includes both financial and non-financial losses, such as:
Financial losses (as a result of lost profits and future earnings) that the victim's family has incurred
Loss of companionship, support, and love
Survival Actions After A Train Accident In California
You could file a survival action case in addition to a personal injury lawsuit if the accident victim did not die right away. When the victim's legal team files a survival lawsuit, the survivor of the estate is entitled to a part of the payable damages.
Compensation for a successful survival action lawsuit usually involves the following:
The victim's partner has a community property interest in the victim's future earnings.
Such financial losses suffered by family members who would have qualified for help if the deceased had not died
Joy, companionship, warmth, care, assistance, protection, affection, culture, and moral support are lost.
The loss of pleasure from sexual intercourse with the victim in the case of a spouse or domestic partner.
The victim misses out on valuable family time, such as raising their children.
Between the time of the accident and the time of death, the victim's pain and suffering, as well as economic losses such as health costs and missed earnings, are included in survival action insurance
Are There Limits to How Much You Can Sue For In California?
The amount of money a personal injury victim may claim in compensation for their losses is limited in some jurisdictions. The words "harm thresholds" are used to characterize these constraints. The amount of money that a person can sue for economic damages after an accident in California is not limited. This program covers all medical bills, lost wages, monetary costs, and other compensatory damages.
In most personal injury cases, the amount of money a judge may pay for pain and suffering damages, also known as non-economic damages, is unlimited.
In the case of medical malpractice litigation, though, there is an exception. Pain and distress, as well as other non-economic losses, are limited in California medical malpractice litigation. A victim of medical malpractice, on the other hand, maybe entitled to unrestricted compensation for economic damages.
Is it possible to locate a Personal Injury Attorney who specializes in Train Accidents?
You are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, damages, lost income, and pain and suffering if an individual or company is to blame for the accident and injury. Negotiating with an insurance agent or another entity can be difficult and time-consuming. Because of your inexperience, you will be able to get a lower payout than the accident and injury warrant. Using the services of a qualified personal injury attorney will assist you in obtaining the compensation you are entitled to. Personal injury cases can easily become complex and entail a large number of people. A number of insurance companies, as well as legal counsel, are often involved.
Your Personal Injury Attorney will discuss the following with you:
To collect all incident data and documents, including injury reports, photographs, and video, as well as eyewitness testimony.
You or the legal team must gather safety information if the case includes a company or another organization.
To ensure that the medical records are checked by a competent medical professional.
With the assistance of medical and economic experts, determine the cumulative damages.
Negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance provider and all parties concerned (or bringing the case to trial) to ensure that you are reasonably paid.
Find Personal Injury Attorney in California
What would you do if you were involved in a railroad accident? What if you had long-term, disfiguring injuries that make going about your everyday routine difficult? After a personal injury, the safest thing to do is contact a legal team as soon as possible. 1000Attorneys.com provides free initial consultations via live chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.